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Shouldn’t Election Day Be a Holiday?

Words by Leon Kaye
Election Day

As of press time, the presidential election is too close to call. But no matter how the results shake out, the images we’ve seen over the past several days show that, by far, the U.S. needs to rethink how it manages Election Day.

Litigation over mail-in ballots. Long lines to vote early — or in person, depending on location. Citizens doubting whether their mail-in ballots would be counted. Drive-through lines for citizens to drop off their ballots in parking lots. And as a side note, there are the countless number of bleary-eyed employees who will have a hard time focusing on Zoom calls this Wednesday morning — if they don’t cancel them.

Affixing Election Day on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November may have made sense in the late 18th century when the voting populace was limited to landowning white guys who had horses and servants at their disposal, ensuring their voices (and no one else’s) would be heard.

But the hoops through which voters have to jump in order to cast their ballots have shown that democracy in the U.S. could use a boost. Yes, there are several business coalitions, including Business for America, that are striving to ensure the key levers that protect voting rights are secured. But it's clear structural change needs to be made. 

The quick solution would be to make Election Day a holiday, and the private sector could take the lead on lobbying for this in the halls of the U.S. Capitol.

Some brands, including Ben & Jerry’s, have made the case that Election Day should be a holiday. And in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio’s Marketplace, Andrea Hailey, CEO of Vote.org, said the nonprofit she leads counts more than 900 companies that participated in its paid time off program.

As Congress has shown no serious interest in making Election Day a federal holiday, Hailey said such a change would have to be up to the private sector. “Until we have a government that is really excited to make it so, I think it’s on corporate leaders and companies, who also have a stake in there being a healthy and thriving democracy, to go ahead and give a paid day off for Election Day and for election participation,” she told Marketplace’s David Brancaccio.

When you consider all the lost time resulting from workers spending hours in line to vote, another pragmatic way to look at Election Day as a federal holiday is that businesses could see a boost in productivity — and earn more goodwill from their employees. “Every minute spent in this democratic pursuit — including transportation to and from voting precincts, waiting in line, and casting a ballot — means lost wages,” wrote Katica Roy for Fast Company.

Image credit: Bonnie Kittle/Unsplash

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked an lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.

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